Archive for the ‘commentary’ Category
It is surprising to most foreigners (even the violent Americans) to see signs everywhere–but particularly on buses–pleading with the reader not to assault the employees. You might think this is an indication of an especially sick society with no self-control; conversely, you could think that the employees uniformly must be complete assholes. However, the populace isn’t as bad as the press might have you believe and, on the whole bus drivers seem to be courteous and professional (even affable) folks.
So, the plea to leave body and dignity intact must be caused by some very specific dickheads’ behaviour. Take, as an example, this drunken–and quite possibly drugged–twunt on Arriva:
If it were just his substance abuse and erratic driving, I would merely have considered the ride an adventure (my own besotted and quite psychedelic years as an Atlanta taxi driver in consideration…pot, kettle, etc.). But, this fat, steaming pile of shit was in a genuine rage from the moment I boarded till at least my exit a moment or two later.
So the “Please Don’t Assault Our Drivers” adverts Arriva mounts in their buses must be placed in his ride with a wry wink and nod. I’m sure no one back at the depot would care if a member of the public handed him a right kicking; likewise, there certainly couldn’t be a Mrs. Twunt at home that would care (or, if there were, would probably cheer the effort). The disadvantage to handing him his teeth is the impact it would have on the coffers of Greggs The Baker as he would be forced to step away from the pies for a couple of days–shops would close across the South East.
Note that I am not, in any way, promoting violence against this piece of congealed bile. Indeed, it is pleasure enough that he will die soon, alone in a takeaway strewn flat, with some device purchased off an Internet porn site firmly attached to his fetid genitals. But, keep taking public transport, folks! [Of special note, there are other buses passing through constantly...I arrived back in Oxford a couple minutes ahead of this bus, safely and with nerves intact; he must have taken similar attention with other riders along the way allowing us to overtake.]
6pm 5th June 2013 (if Arriva wishes to drug test this cocksucker)
Email newsletter came in (haven’t read this article) that reminded me of the many instances of Surprising Things That Ruined A Run.
Actual examples from my past (some more than once):
*Fresh mountain lion tracks spotted in a box canyon (Tucson)
*Unseen open manhole cover (Atlanta)
*Stopped by Savannah River Site security and some military helicopters (nuclear reservation, South Carolina)
*Sudden outbreak of gang turf war (Tucson)
*Arrest (Athens, GA)
*Tornado (Alabama and Southern Illinois–not the same tornado)
*Pot farm (North Georgia mountains near Cohutta…decided it might be prudent to re-plot my route through this one)
*Wildfires (California, Colorado, and Arizona)
*Flooding (Missouri, Arizona, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire)
*War games (on the tank tracks around Ft. Stewart, GA, then again more recently in the Salisbury Plain)
*Struck by falling tree (Cook’s Trail, Athens, GA–required several stitches in forehead and caused massive changes in sense of smell and taste for about a month, as well)
*Armed robbery (Decatur, GA near Emory: guy looks through wallet while holding the gun on me and demands, “Credit cards…where are they?”; I laugh and say, “look at me, dude…do I LOOK like I have credit?” at which point he flings the wallet back at me and tells me to run which, ironically, is what I had been trying to do at the time)
*Struck by golf ball (Griffin, GA)
*Alligator in road (Brunswick and Savannah, GA) [also, venomous snakes on trail more places than I care to remember in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas]
*Dead Family acid (surprising, everytime, just how quickly it hit and how clean it was, Atlanta and Athens, GA)
*Jumping Cholla cacti (Tucson–newby surprise)
*Lock maintenance 14km across the Afsluitdijk (had to turn around and go back)
And, most frequently: the pub at the turnaround point of a long run is closed for the afternoon or closed down completely (happens too often to keep up with).
Been away so long I hardly know the place…looking through a news consolidation site I spotted an article teaser that made me wonder if the Republicans are just trying to appeal to their base:
(I added the bit about the roots. Sorry for any confusion.)
Logged off the pc with this many:
Back on for some coffee next morning with this:
Quarter of a million (plus a shitload of phishing hits); and, most of the posts have an intended audience of 7-10 people. The net is baffling.
Yates’ pub chain does this and it annoys me no end…they put an extra “s” after the possessive apostrophe (see here for an example). Here’s a similarly egregious punctuation error at the Spar in Pewsey:
And, don’t even get me started on the shit wine for which this offer was made….
Board here for the Magical Mystery Tour:
[In honour of Albert Hofmann, a couple of days after the fifth anniversary of his transcendance (January 11, 1906 – April 29, 2008)]
The treatise before you seeks to introduce the uninformed world to Hashlam, the faith of Hashers worldwide, and to dispel the myths and innuendo that have developed due to prejudices brought on, too often, from the practice of its rites in view of the general public, insh’Gispert (G-willing). The religious aspects are regularly covered on individual hashing sites and on Wikipedia; this entry will try to deal with some of the societal implications.
Most of the misinformation comes from the ambiguity and subtlety between the various forms of practice of Hashlam. Many of you will have heard of the two major sects, the Shites and the Sotties, with the Shites adherents of the PreLay (paths to the True Trail that exist before the journey is taken) while the Sotties believe in Live trails (often a misnomer) that must be discerned from freshly given divine clues. Subtleties in belief and practice all too often result in G-Had as in the one called by a hasher known as Ibn-Love FatWa of the fundamentalist Sottie group known as the Arizona Larrikins (aka, Mr Happy’s) against a less well established Sottie sect known as Bike Hashlam (whose cultish offshoot, the Cycletologists, boasts many celebrity members) culminating in the flour fueled carpet bombing of the Bike Hash’s first Red Dress Run (this rite is described on most Hashing websites and will not be explored here).
Results of the Bike Hash G-Had
It may come as a surprise to many of you that Hashlam has its antecedents in the other two great Western religions, ie, Brewdaism and Trackstianity (which itself developed from the Brewdaic tradition via a more fundamentalist form of the Beer Run). In fact, the path to Hashlam, known as the True Trail, very often involves dabbling in one or both of the older faiths with even observant members of Orthodox Brewdaism taking up running and very sober members of Trackstian sects finding solace in a Brewish Temple.
It is written and widely believed that, having taken up the Way of the True Trail, it is impossible for one to leave. Liberal adherents believe the prescribed death of an ex-Hasher is meant to be figurative, but support groups such as Apostacy Alcoholics, or AA, have taken on many a wayward Hasher and are considered heretical organisations even by the most broad-minded believers. There may even be time to explore the Seven-ish Pillars of Hashlam, most famous of which being the Interhaaj in which every hasher of nearly the financial means is expected to go make an ass of himself in a foreign land.
In future postings, we hope to shed light on how Hashlam has integrated with Eastern religions such as the Budhists (of both the Budweiser and Budvar varieties) and the exotic Tindu pantheon of tinned (and bottled!) beverages.
The Centre for Hashlamic Studies was founded in 2013 by Slowsama-bin-Riden with the mission to examine and explain Hashlam’s place in out increasingly interdependent world. Slowsama can be contacted by the faithful via Hashspace and by the rest of you infidel dogs at email@example.com .
I was having lunch when the first Thatcher joke hit my Twitter account and I thought I might do an obit detailing some weird Thatcher-related, fetishistic fantasy from my youth but I just couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for it (at least not the kind of enthusiasm the Brits, pro and con, seem capable of in their widely varied tributes). I already did Betty this honour, anyway.
After all, I lived through Reagan and have listened for years to nonsense about him ending the Cold War, making America great again, saving capitalism, etc, etc. Yet even though I have less direct experience than the locals do, my feelings for the Blue Lady are similarly visceral to those I have for Ronnie. Lord Byron, felt much the same about Castlereagh…so, I might do no better than to paraphrase the one’s tribute to the other, here:
‘The end result we finally see
Of Mammon over me and you.
Here sits the urn of Mrs. T:
Squat, brothers, and poo.’
Okay, for you Philistines out there who keep asking…Byron penned this out of his great respect for the late Castlereagh and all he did for the Irish:
‘Posterity will ne’er survey,
A nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveller, and piss.’ — Lord Byron
Spring in England is usually glorious, coming convulsively starting at the end of February until it collapses in a sweaty mess close to the end of June. MOST years. This year the continuous cold and endless precipitation have pushed the start back. Some hearty fruit varieties blossomed a couple of weeks ago, but this year even the blackthorn (usually a riot of insect activity in early March) has yet to pop. Riding for miles every day past the bare limbs of so many trees has me at the breaking point.
But, walking past you can see the leaf and flower buds are ready to go. This is the second day in a row over 10° C (50° F), and we may see 16° C (61° F) on the weekend). I fully expect to go into work via a winter landscape and return through a forest, any day now.
I noticed them before we moved house in January, the thick flocks of birds flying their synchronized and psychedelic patterns in the dusk sky. I thought it was neat, but apparently it is also unusual for it to last so long or with such large aggregations of birds. The Beeb (and other news distributors) have taken notice and their stories are worth a look for photos of the beautiful aerobatic patterns. I noticed patterns, too, on my way to the butcher:
Inspired by (linked to the London map):
Stretham (2009) gets auto-corrected to the London neighbourhood of Streatham. If you defer to it as “Ely is” then it get’s changed to Eli.
Further back, we have 2006-2009:
Good question. Answer here.
The 66 bus had to wait for a road construction imposed lane narrowing to open and the Saffron Indian was directly in front of me…with this soon to fall sign hung centered over the entrance. Over/under on the fall date is mid-June (but windy weather is due in May). Bonus points if the victim is split in half by it.
At least they had the good sense to tie the sign to the heavy metal frame (so they both go at once)…Health and Safety means EVERYTHING to these people.
There was little exercise and fuck-all going out for anything aside from bare necessities this week as fever, aches, and blinding congestive pressure took hold. To have something new for the blog this week, I did what I always do when ill…I scanned the news. Here are some highlights from the week.
The Crufts Dog Show started this week and will continue for much of the next 8 months. I used to think that the BBC should dedicate a channel exclusively to darts, snooker, and Crufts but a friend pointed out that they already have one called BBC 2. It is interesting to see the odd breeds that have developed over the years, though.
Rest in peace, brother Chavez.
Once, me and Hugo were out drinking and, boy, could he put it away! I overdid it and puked all over myself, covering my shirt in filth. ”What am I going to tell Jackie? She hates when I embarrass myself in front of heads-of-state.”
Thinking quickly, Hugo stuffed a 20 peso note in my shirt pocket: “tell her a guy at the bar did this and gave you the note to pay for the cleaning.”
I got back to the hacienda and she hit the roof and I told her Hugo’s story at which point she calmed right down–Hugo was a genius of crisis control.
Then, Jackie said, “hey, Bun…why are there TWO twenties in your shirt?”
“Oh, that other one is from the guy that shit in my pants.”
North Korea severed musical relations with Seoul during the week. Here we see evidence of Pyongyang’s development of prohibited Boy Band Technology. Worrying though this may be, few experts believe that this is Da Bomb.
Daily since 19 January, I have trudged across town carrying or pushing loads of leftover shite the mile-and-a-half from the old house to the new one. I have some moving company skates that got left behind by a company in Arizona that used them to move 1200 pound pieces of delicate equipment between buildings; on two separate and quite rainy occasions I steered these laden with 200-300 pound loads of boxes shrink wrapped onto the skates with large potted plants on top. Other days, I had canvas straps holding hemp shopping bags all over me bandoleer-style, and I received uncharacteristic deference on the streets and pavements as, quite obviously, an insane person.
Today was the oddest trip yet while being the lightest load so far. I stuffed a Bogen tripod, a crowbar, and just about anything else that would go in the backpack then grabbed the propane canister remaining from the ex-BBQ and headed off. The shadows looked at times like a winged demon and at others like a ninja although as I passed the shops in Regent Street I could see clearly from the reflection in the window I just looked like a jackass with some sort of heretofore unheard of fetish (note, this may be true).
I thought this might make a crappy Kevin Costner movie, but I ran out of steam on the poster idea (“rated PG for Pansies and Geraniums which will winter over nicely with a bit of mulch” just seemed like too much effort to add).
All that remains are the Hoover, a rake, the strimmer, a fan (to dry the carpets post-cleaning) and some plastic planters and window boxes–more fucking garden shite.
Oh, yeah, that’s my street on the right side of the Beehive, and it is steeper than the picture let’s on (here’s the view down the other way from a few mornings ago–the yellow house halfway down is the one I’m standing in front of in the poster):
I’ve always thought that if you pass your driving test you should be able to demand a blood test on the spot and then they would have to endorse the license with your passing Blood Alcohol Content and levels of any of a variety of narcotics and psychedelics found therein. Thereafter, this would be your baseline.
A step toward this Better World has been boldly taken in Ireland:
So, four years now (or, rather, next week it will be…here’s the annual reports for years Three, Two, and One for historical perspective).
We just received our new visas valid until 2016 but plan to take the next step toward citizenship in a year, Indefinite Leave to Remain…sort of the British Green Card. There is an exam, first, but in general it is all downhill from here.
The view from Western Street near the new house…also all downhill
Additionally, we are in the process of moving house (which is why I rushed the annual report a week forward) from just north of the Oasis over to Old Town to a house situated close walks to either the Beehive or the Castle or the Globe (recently reopened!)—three locals instead of one and all three of high quality—and dozens of others a short walk. The new house has three bedrooms each larger than its counterpart in the old house, the two receptions are larger and made into more of an open-plan configuration, the bath is larger and has a tub (not just a shower), and there is a finished basement; on the down side, the kitchen is a little narrower and more primitive as is the small garden but everything we do and everywhere we normally go in Swindon (save for the butcher) is so close.
The only races I did this past year were the London Marathon (5 pubs plus a can of Carling on the last mile) and the Beerathon (5 miles with a pint and a hefty food item between each) and the mileage run for the year suffered from this lack of focus—1950 give or take about 25 (most estimates pretty good using gmap-pedometer), while the last several years (except for the year of the wreck) were in the 2200-2500 range.
On the runs, I visited 255 new pubs with a stunning 67 new ones (steep part of the graph) in September when I took two weeks off work and ran at least 10 miles per day in new territory each day. The 1000th wasn’t as big a thrill as I thought it would be, but I saw some really nice places and met some really fine folk. The September holiday found me visiting Gloucester, South Wales, Slough (exotic, I know) and Exeter along with some nearer-to-Swindon trips. The 100 Yellow Beer Challenge was responsible for a lot of second visits to pubs I might not otherwise have gone to after an initial stop and many of these seemed better the second time around. Oh, and my Workingman’s Club appears to have failed or at least hasn’t been open the last several times I’ve popped by (I have a grand one scoped out for the new neighbourhood, though).
Best pubs in Year Four (reverse order by First Visit write-up):
The Southgate Inn, Devizes
The Hop Inn, Swindon
Dicey Reilly’s, Teignmouth
The Brass Monkey, Teignmouth
One Eyed Jack’s, Gloucester
Ye Olde Red Lion, Tredegar
The Rose of Denmark, Woolwich
The Volunteer Rifleman’s Arms
The Green Dragon, Marlborough
The British Lion, Devizes
The Blue Boar, Alsbourne (for the Dr. Who connections)
British Citizenship Exam Prep
Assize Court, Bristol
Paul Simon in Hyde Park
The Bremen Musicians (German children’s story)
Sex Tourism in Wiltshire
Modern Algebra for Omid
Burns’ Day Lunch
There are others search for ‘made me laugh.’ The blog may or may not have made some of the over 100,000 visitors laugh, but the damn fools keep checking in (that’s you, that is).
Carling #144 for me, enjoyed with some leftover cassoulet and the woman–on our 27th Anniversary
The 100 Yellow Beers in 100 Places Challenge, organised as a lark by an acquaintance in Colorado and his buddy in Texas, took on a life of its own maturing in the summer to quite a few completions and then ending the year in the death spasms as three participants sprinted to the tape (or the bright, white light). Well done, all.
And then last week I received the announcement that the 2013 Challenge would be burgers…none from fast food megachains, and no repeats of any sort (the rules are simple so even I can understand them). However, burgers in this country are a little less appetising than a wet cardboard box so I have asked (and been granted) a dispensation allowing kebabs. [This is not universally the case...one notable exception was chronicled here.]
Kebab meat sliced from the cylinder, lettuce, tomato, cabbage, onion, chillies and chilli sauce on a pita…yummy.
The döner kebab is a marvel of technology if not of dining and in a country so steeped in alcohol it is almost a requirement–if there isn’t a stand in your village you should get some sort of tax relief. It is most effective as a prelude to a session of drinking since it both helps to absorb excess drink and the fats serve to shut the subsequent esophageal deliveries in the stomach for a period of time; however, it is most often added at the end of the bender resulting in myriad multicoloured decorations on the pavements round and about town centres the nation over.
Lamb, beef, spices, (perhaps a cigarette butt or two and some bodily fluids) go into the Elephant Leg
I love ‘em and to make it to 50 in a year I plan to pace myself with one per week. A small order of anything else could be known as the child-sized one, and child-sized is about right for a small kebab: a newborn, but the size of a healthy baby if not a healthy meal. I have never had the nerve to order a large.
So, over the course of the impending year I’ll be reporting more than the odd-monthly kebab review of the past several years. The drinking hasn’t killed me yet, so what-the-hell?
[This was my annual note to the folks in my email lists...if you weren't included, you are now. It isn't much, and if you read the blog anyway (as most of them don't) you will either already know or should recognise this as a 'spoiler alert.' Please, feel free to skip ahead.]
BCC’ed you all because of the fear of cross-pollination (for your sake, not mine).
I hope you are all having at least as good a holiday as we are. If not, my apologies (we’re not gloating but happy and nonetheless we are doing well). If you are doing better than us, please share your bounty in a story of your own; and, congratulations, but none of us really deserve such wealth.
I’ll return to my smarmy and smart-assed comments at the New Year, but at this time I’m off to start the cooking, drinking, and otherwise debauched activities, starting in earnest in a few minutes. I’ll be relatively incoherent for weeks, and so you should accept this late Friday evening note with the friendly intentions it was composed and not with any of the sociopathic and probably creepy undertones it inevitably contains…as Popeye says.
We are both healthy and happy and unlikely to have some catastrophic and sudden illness, nor do I have any enemies nearby with the sort of blood grudges I really need to worry about (despite the limitations I have on arming myself in this country): yes, mellowed might well describe it. Or, aged catastrophically…six of one, half a dozen, etc.
So, there we have it. Jackie (or the other name we use) is sick of Christmas music what with the whole retail temp job experience she’s suffered so all we will do Holiday Music-wise is play, quite badly, some things back and forth and with one another on the uke, the guitar, and the electric keys.
We have 6 bottles of Champagne, 20 reds and 4 whites and a case of port. I strained and tweaked a bottle of homemade sloe gin, and we have some apple dessert liqueur ready to strain. I hope to hit a few new pubs to add to the 1062 so far, and we will still have the annual frozen Jaegermeister and some single malt of good repute.
Christmas dinner is a standing rib roast. New Year’s (and a few days around it) marks our 27th anniversary and we will settle in to yet another enormous batch of cassoulet
. Between, we have some pheasants, some hare, and a bit of venison. We might do a curry takeaway on the odd day we overdo the party (as you do).
Once again, I hope this finds you at least as satisfied with your lot in life as we are with our almost laughably meagre existence. It is statistically likely someone on this distribution is financially worse off or socially more isolated than us (weird refugees from a third-world empire that we are…and we recognise the irony in that description of the States); if this is you, my thoughts and best wishes are with you.
For the rest of you, come visit. We’re moving into a new house in January and should be able to walk to music venues and bars (plural…currently it is a hike to my Working Man’s Club
[which is soon to be or already has closed] and only one pub–albeit a brilliant one
–is within a stumble of the front door).
Swindon is actually a hoot, and even if you don’t fancy it we are less than an hour from London, Oxford, Bath, Bristol and Gloucester and less than 2 hours from Salisbury, Exeter, Cambridge, Cardiff and Birmingham.
Love, or if that’s too much for you, ‘best,’
My initial work visa for the UK.
I just turned in my Visa application and documents for our last year before I become eligible for what is known as Permanent Residency in the States and Indefinite Leave to Remain here This is my first big step toward citizenship, and involves a test of my knowledge of British Culture (some of which is reproduced here).
Note: I haven’t actually started revising for the test.
Also, answer “b” is always chosen by an American, or a foreigner more suited to America. It’s “B” for Bugger Off.
Answer “a” is always correct but “c” or “d,” when they appear, are always acceptable.
a) 20 Imperial ounces (18.2 US ounces)
b) 16 US ounces
c) not enough, matey, not enough
a) verb, defend oneself OR to attack someone (generally at drinking up time)
b) noun, vitrified sand
c) smallest acceptable unit of whiskey for a man
a) adjective, drunk…badly drunk, y’know, like every weekend
b) verb, past tense, urinated
a) equivalent to shrieking, “YOU FUCKING PILE OF STEAMING SHITE HOW DARE YOU FORCE ME TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EXISTENCE.” But quietly and reflexively and it really doesn’t mean ANYTHING most of the time.
b) a notification to the recipient that you are culpable and remorseful for an action you are responsible for
6. Your town is ___________.
a) “a bit shit, really.”
b) “the best town in the WORLD!”
c) “Are you looking for a slap, mate?”
d) a & c
7. As someone approaches they say, “alright?” You respond:
b) “Yes, I’m fine thanks, how are you?”
8. It’s bleak ________.
a) up North
b) down South
c) on Albert Square
[This one actually happened in front of me and, yes, the correct answers are a & c.]
9. An old man is knocked off his bike by a lorrie in Olney. You offer _______.
a) a cup of tea
c) a large brandy
[This one involves actual top two answers from a poll of Brits.]
10. Aliens land from outer space. You ________.
a) offer to put the kettle on
b) alert the authorities, or fight the things, or run for cover abandoning family, friends and colleagues
c) ask, “alright?”
11. Walking on the pavement [sidewalk], you find yourself on a trajectory that will crash into an oncoming pedestrian. He clocks this and moves to the other side of the pavement to avoid confrontation. You respond by _____________.
a) readjusting your trajectory to crash into this sad bastard…fuck ‘im. Nance.
b) smiling and acknowledging their courtesy
c) a AND only using peripheral vision to navigate, thus gaining plausible deniability that this was intentional (see VOCABULARY question on “Sorry”)
12. Do you know who Vicky Pollard is?
a) yeahr but no but, yeahr but no but, yeahr but no but, yeahr but no but….
Who knew Castro was an avid golfer? Of course Che was…he was a doctor.
A more salient question today is: Will it be champagne or whiskey in the early hours of the morning? Here’s the last payout plot for four years:
They are taking bets until 10:00 pm GMT, if you have an itch.